🔼The name Baalis: Summary
- Son Of Exultation, Son Of Delight
- From (1) the noun בן (ben), son, and (2) the verb עלס (alas), to rejoice.
- From the verb בעל (ba'al), to be lord.
🔼The name Baalis in the Bible
The name Baalis occurs only one time in the Bible. The prophet Jeremiah tells the story of how Johanan, son of Kareah, visits vassal Gedaliah, son of Ahikam, at Mizpah and tells him that Baalis, king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, to kill him. And if he should go and knock off Ishmael before he can act. But Gedaliah doesn't buy Johanan's story and tells him not to do anything (Jeremiah 40:14).
🔼Etymology of the name Baalis
At first glance, the name Baalis looks like it has to do with the name בעל (Baal), a very common Hebrew word meaning husband or owner:
The verb בעל (ba'al) means to exercise dominion over; to own, control or be lord over. The ubiquitous noun בעל (ba'al) means lord, master and even husband, and its feminine counterpart בעלה (ba'ala) means mistress or landlady.
God is obviously called 'lord' all over the Bible and the sin of the Baal priests (1 Kings 18:40) was not that they called upon some other deity but rather their incessant howling of the word 'lord' without any further responsibility or effects (see Matthew 7:21 and 11:4-5).
At second glance, however, there's nothing in the Hebrew language that can account for the -is part. It may be that the יס is a scribal error for ים, forming a common plural: Ba'alim, meaning Lords. But that's not very likely.
It's more likely that the name Baalis was formed from a contraction of two elements, the first of them being the common noun בן (ben), meaning son:
The noun בן (ben) means son, or more general: a member of one particular social or economic node — called a "house", which is built upon the instructions of one אב ('ab), or "father" — within in a larger economy (hence: the "sons of the prophet" are the members of the prophet-class; the prophets). This noun obviously resembles the verb בנה (bana), to build, and the noun אבן ('eben), stone.
Our noun's feminine version, namely בת (bat), means daughter, which resembles the noun בית (bayit), meaning house. Sometimes our noun is contracted into a single letter ב, whose name beth comes from בית (bayit) and means "house" as well. As a prefix, the letter ב (be) means "in." The word for mother, אם ('em), is highly similar to that of tribe or people, אמה ('umma).
The second part of the name Baalis then might come from a small cluster of adjacent verbs that includes the verb עלס (alas), meaning to rejoice:
The verb עלז ('alaz) means to exult or rejoice. Adjectives עלז ('alez) and עליז ('aliz) mean exultant or jubilant.
Verbs עלס ('alas) and עלץ ('alas) are probably by-forms of the previous and have the same meaning. From the latter derives noun עליצות (''alisut), exultation.
Hence the name בעליס (Baalis) would be a contraction of בן־עליס (Ben-aliys).
For a meaning of the name Baalis, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names suggests Son Of Exultation. BDB Theological Dictionary reads Son Of Delight. NOBSE Study Bible Name List doesn't propose a translation.